Cafeteria hysteria as students exposed to mystery substance

By Lincoln Anderson

Five teenagers were treated at St. Vincent’s Hospital after a student spilled a toxic chemical on a lunchroom table in the high school building at 131 Sixth Ave. in Soho on Fri., Sept. 19, at 1:57 p.m.

A police spokesperson said the incident was a “noncriminal matter,” adding, “nobody was seriously injured.” Whatever the substance was, it irritated several students’ eyes, the spokesperson said, with some treated at the scene and others removed by Emergency Medical Services ambulance to the hospital. The spokesperson said the irritant was possibly Mace or ammonia. He referred further questions to the Fire Department, which oversees E.M.S.

A Fire Department spokesperson said the substance was “possibly pepper spray,” adding, however, “We don’t have a breakdown of what it was.”

One female student was seen being removed from the school in a wheelchair, with an oxygen mask strapped over her mouth and an oxygen bag in her lap, before being loaded into an ambulance. A group of four other students exited the building in single file, each with a hand gripping the shoulder of the one in front, as if they could not see well, and climbed into another ambulance.

The building is shared by Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School and the new NYCiSchool, which requires its students to score 85 or better on the eighth-grade, standardized test.